Oliver Hazard Perry to stay in R.I. with new operating model, CEO

AFTER AN OPERATIONAL PAUSE and consideration of sale of the tall ship, the nonprofit that owns the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry says it will now remain in Rhode Island with a new operating model and a new CEO and staff. / COURTESY OLIVER HAZARD PERRY RHODE ISLAND
AFTER AN OPERATIONAL PAUSE and consideration of sale of the tall ship, the nonprofit that owns the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry says it will now remain in Rhode Island with a new operating model and a new CEO and staff. / COURTESY OLIVER HAZARD PERRY RHODE ISLAND

NEWPORT – The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will remain in Rhode Island for year-round programming, the nonprofit Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island announced Monday evening.

The organization also has appointed a new CEO, changed its operating model and committed to partnerships in the state to support the financial stability and accessibility of the tall ship.

In September, the nonprofit’s board of directors announced that the ship’s operation and future plans were paused due to the organization’s uncertain financial future, and said that it was considering selling the tall ship.

Monday, it said that it had since fired all staff and crew, and wintered the ship at Goodison’s Shipyard at the Quonset Business Park.

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“We explored different options for the ship, even one of selling it to a corporation,” said OHPRI’s new Chairman Avery Seaman in a statement, “but really the best plan for Oliver Hazard Perry is for her to remain here in Rhode Island serving the people of Rhode Island and adjacent coastal communities with year-round programming.”

Captain Jonathan Kabak has been named the organization’s new CEO. Kabak was most recently the director of marine operations for the nonprofit USMMA Sailing Foundation. Kabak also serves on the board of directors of Tall Ships America and continues to serve as an adjunct curriculum director and instructor at the U.S. Maritime Resource Center in Middletown.

As part of the organization’s new strategy, the organization will pivot away from long offshore voyages and focus on a mix of multi-day, single-day and dockside programs, with underway voyages offered from late spring through mid-autumn. The organization said that the move will provide a “more diversified and stable revenue model.”

“Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island recognizes the challenges that we have faced in our effort to bring life-changing experiences at sea to youth, and we have rededicated ourselves to continuing to provide these types of experiences to broader audiences, through more diverse programming, and with a fundamental commitment to sustainable business practices that will allow us to proudly operate Rhode Island’s Official Tall Ship well into the 21st Century,” said Kabak in prepared remarks.

The nonprofit also said that it will start the Ray Montague STEAM Initiative to provide hands-on experiences related to the design, construction and operation of the ship. The organization will partner with organizations and entities it already has working relationships with to launch the initiative, with the organization noting that it will begin its first program in partnership with the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association and Composites Association while the ship is still stored on land.

The ship is scheduled to launch in April and the organization plans to begin programming in May.

The organization also said Monday that an anonymous $300,000 donor pledge helped support a $600,000 launch of the boat and to commit to programming contracts.

“These funds reflect the future revenue from our upcoming programs and allow us to cover our expenses until we receive payment,” stated Kabak.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. Email him at Bergenheim@PBN.com